ZCTU drags minister to court

THE Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) has dragged Labour minister Prisca Mupfumira and the National Social Security Authority (Nssa) to court over the withdrawal of its representative from the Nssa board for misconduct.

Bernard Mpofu

Last month, Mupfumira removed ZCTU official Peter Mutasa from the social security agency’s board, accusing him of working against the social security agency and leaking confidential information.
However, the ZCTU has challenged Mupfumira’s decision and is pushing for the reinstatement of the union’s secretary-general.

According to a High Court application dated May 31, Mupfumira withdrew Mutasa from the Nssa board without conducting a disciplinary hearing on the matter. Mupfumira and Nssa are cited as second and third respondents respectively.

“On the 3rd of May 2017, 1st respondent withdrew 2nd applicant (Mutasa) from being a member of the board of the 2nd respondent with immediate. In doing so, 1st respondent committed a gross irregularity in that she did not satisfy the inherent requirements of section 10 (a) of the National Social Security Act (Chapter 17:04) which she purported to rely on,” Mutasa averred in the court papers.

“The provision in question merely empowers her to require a member to vacate office. It does not empower her to ‘withdraw’ a member from the board. 1st respondent therefore did not have the jurisdiction to act in the manner she did.

“The decision made by 1st respondent adversely affected the rights, interests and legitimate expectations of 2nd applicant, who was sitting in the National Social Security Board, and 1st applicant to sit in such accordance with the law.”

Mutasa said Mupfumira’s failure to afford him a chance to be heard amounted to a gross irregularity in the proceedings leading to his removal from the board.

“After 1st respondent’s decision we wrote to her to look into the matter. We did this through ZCTU and our legal practitioners’ letter dated May 10 2017…1st respondent neither acknowledged receipt of the letters nor responded to them. She simply ignored us. We were therefore left with no option but to approach this Honourable Court for relief,” Mutasa said in the court papers.

“2nd respondent has substantial interest in the matter. The issues raised herein affect the composition of the board. It has a duty to accept lawfully appointed board members and bar those who no longer sit on the board from attending any meetings or performing any functions of the board. It is therefore necessary to cite it as a party herein, if anything, for its own information, but more so because a specific order is sought against it. I specifically seek 2nd respondent be directed to allow me to continue discharging my duties as its board member without loss of any benefit.” In a letter dated May 3 addressed to ZCTU secretary-general Japhet Moyo, Mupfumira accused Mutasa of failing to uphold confidentiality.

“I write to inform you that acting in terms of section 10 (a) of the National Social Security Authority Act (Chapter 17:04), have withdrawn Mr. Peter Mutasa from being a member of the Nssa board with immediate effect,” reads the letter in part.

“The withdrawal was necessitated by the member’s conduct in the execution of his expected roles and responsibilities as a board member. Mr. Mutasa failed to advance the interests of Nssa by attacking the institution in meetings and in the media. He also failed to uphold confidentiality of board discussions as required by the Act.”

On the same day, Mupfumira also wrote to Moyo requesting that the ZCTU submit three nominees to replace Mutasa. Moyo, in a letter dated May 10 replied Mupfumira challenging the decision to withdraw Mutasa from the board.

“Hon. Minister we are shocked by your decision to withdraw Mr. Mutasa from the board without even the courtesy to inform us of his alleged misconduct. Furthermore, Mr Mutasa is also not aware of the said allegations that informed your decisions,” Moyo said in the letter.

“Kindly note that you did not afford him the right to be heard provided in section 69 (1) (2) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe and no proper procedures were followed to arrive to such decision.

“We acknowledge your powers to withdraw a board member in terms of section 10 (a) of the Nssa Act, however, such power cannot be exercised unilaterally but must comply and respect Mr. Mutasa’s constitutional rights. Hon. Minister we request you to withdraw your decision to dismiss Mr. Mutasa from Nssa board and afford him his right to be heard. The ZCTU will not be submitting any names until Mr. Mutasa is legally withdrawn.”

Mutasa is also at loggerheads with the Nssa board over some of the authority’s investment decisions, particularly the acquisition of mobile operator Telecel Zimbabwe.

Nssa provided US$30 million towards the purchase of a 60% stake in Telecel Zimbabwe from Dutch-based Global Telecom Holding, a VimpleCom subsidiary.

However, the Nssa management and board rejected Mutasa’s complaint, saying investing US$30 million and getting back US$43 million, a US$13 million return, cannot be said to be a poor investment, particularly in an environment characterised by a severe liquidity crunch and acute cash crisis.

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